The book is essentially a conversation between two men on their way to shul. One is sort of simple-minded: he doesn’t believe in evolution, and his beliefs correspond largely to typical frum beliefs. The other guy reads a lot and has lots of information and questions about these beliefs. He basically spends the entire book trying to convince his friend about the weaknesses in his frum outlook.
There were a number of things I liked and did not like about the book. It reminds me of Rabbi Avigdor Miller’s books, as some of those are also in the conversation format. I enjoyed some of R’ Miller’s books, and while some of Miller's science and ideas are simplistic, I found the format somewhat captivating. At its best, this format is more engaging and flows well; at its worst, this format can mask poor writing and saves the writer the trouble of coming up with other ways of making the story flow smoothly.The thing I probably like most about the book is the range of ideas covered in the book. The skeptical friend is very well-read and touches on a wide variety of subjects, from the Argument from Poor Design, to the Anthropic Principle to hybrid vigor. A lot of subjects are discussed, and it is an excellent compilation of arguments against the beliefs of Orthodox Judaism. The skeptical guy does believe in God and considers himself a part of the Orthodox community, yet his beliefs and interests seem well outside those of the Orthodox mainstream.
One thing I would have liked to see more of in the book is a more thorough discussion of arguments against Orthodoxy from a non-scientific perspective. A more full discussion of morality would have been welcome, as well as a more thorough treatment of suffering and pain in this world and how that relates to belief in God. There was some discussion of the Holocaust, and a very brief discussion of morality. I would have loved to have seen a lot more on these topics, especially on morality.
It was an interesting read. A lot of arguments against a worldview are condensed in one thin volume, the author strikes a nice balance of original opinions together with traditional tendencies, and the words flow rather nicely. A welcome addition to the skeptic’s library.